One Week Out From Iowa,
It’s Looking Like a Four-Way Split

A four-way split? 2020 Democratic presidential candidates (from left) South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren. ( photo)

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 28, 2020 — Now, just about one week from the first votes of the 2020 presidential election campaign being cast in Iowa, the most current polling suggests that we could see a four-way split for delegate apportionment in the first two voting states. After Iowans meet in their precinct meetings next Monday, New Hampshire voters will visit their polling places in the nation’s first 2020 presidential primary eight days later on February 11th.

Two new surveys each come from the two states: YouGov/CBS News and Suffolk University/USA Today in Iowa, and the University of New Hampshire/CNN and Marist College/NBC News in the Granite State.

In Iowa, Suffolk University/USA Today (Jan. 23-26; 500 likely Iowa Democratic Caucus attenders) finds former Vice President Joe Biden leading Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and the rest of the field, 25-19-18-13-8 percent. In third place is former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, while Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) follows, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) takes the drop into fifth place.

Based upon this poll, Biden, Sanders, and Buttigieg would qualify for delegate apportionment, while the actual vote would likely push Sen. Warren over the minimum threshold, as well. Iowa has 41 first-ballot delegates.

The second Iowa poll finds Sen. Sanders leading, and many political observers both in and out of the state are predicting him to ultimately finish first here. The YouGov/CBS survey (Jan. 16-23; 1,356 likely Iowa Democratic Caucus attenders) projects Sanders’ slight advantage to be 26-25-22-15-7 percent, which again suggests that the top four candidates each will qualify for delegates. If so, the final Iowa result will yield no clear leader coming from the Hawkeye State leaving a muddled field headed to New Hampshire.

Both the University of New Hampshire/CNN and Marist College/NBC find Sen. Sanders holding an edge. This is believable since he scored a 60 percent victory four years ago here over Hillary Clinton. The UNH/CNN study (Jan. 15-23; 516 likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters) gives Sanders a 25-16-15-12-6-5-5 percent advantage over Biden and Buttigieg, Sens. Warren and Klobuchar, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and businessman Andrew Yang in consecutive order.

The Marist College/NBC data (Jan. 20-23; 697 likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters) projects a similar result: 22-17-15-13-10-6-5 percent, with the order being Sanders, Buttigieg, Biden, Warren, Klobuchar, Gabbard, and Yang.

Extrapolating the undecided voters into the projected final count from both polls would allow Sen. Warren to also qualify for delegate apportionment as would, of course, the leaders, Sanders, Biden, and Buttigieg. New Hampshire has 24 first-ballot delegates.

Under the above scenario, the combined delegate counts in Iowa and New Hampshire would only provide the leading candidate with less than 15 national convention votes from the Caucuses and under 10 from the primary. While the aggregate two-state first ballot allotment is a paltry 65 delegates from a total first-ballot universe of 3,979, important momentum is historically gained from each of these two states.

If the actual result in Iowa and New Hampshire is similar to what is described above, then the Feb. 22 Nevada Caucus will become a major event, and one that could set the tone for the South Carolina primary a week later, and then Super Tuesday on March 3, just three days post the Palmetto State vote.

Nevada will also be a critical venue for at least two, and possibly three, of the four top-tier candidates who will have failed to win either of the first two voting events. Therefore, most of the competing candidates will have their backs against the proverbial wall heading into Nevada particularly if one of the winless contenders is former VP Biden, who has been the ostensible front runner during almost the entire pre-voting period.

After more than a year of pre-vote campaigning, all of the polls and projections will soon transform into actual votes, and it all begins next week.

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